Coaster Train Will Go To San Diego Convention Center
Speaker 1: 00:00 Catching the train to the San Diego convention center could be a possibility within five years under a new plan that would extend the coaster beyond the current Terminus at the Santa Fe Depot. The so-called low San rail corridor through Los Angeles and San Diego is the second busiest rail corridor in the country. If extended people from Los Angeles or North County could buy a ticket to the Padres game or Comic-Con and arrive on the doorstep of those events by train, Tony Krantz is chair of the North County transit district board. Tony, thanks for joining Speaker 2: 00:32 Us. You're welcome. Thanks for having me. So Speaker 1: 00:34 Now there's actually a lot of things happening at the railway line down the San Diego coastline. Isn't there. The number of trains going up and down is expected to double how often will trains run and how soon could that happen? Speaker 2: 00:47 The low sand corridor has been in existence since the 1880s and, and as it has evolved, there are currently three major uses of that corridor. One is freight. The other is inner city, which is our Pacific surf liner operated by the state. And then finally the line that the service that North County transit district operates, which is the coaster running from Oceanside down into San Diego. And that is known as a commuter rail. And it will be our goal is to have a service during peak hours, which is the morning and evening commute, times of 30 minute headways. And then off peak times would, uh, have trains every running every hour. So believe recently purchased some new train sets and are getting new locomotives and refurbishing our existing coach cars so that we can provide this service. Uh, it had been planned pre pandemic. And so we've had some changes, uh, as we're working our way through the, the COVID-19 crisis. And, um, it is our hope that as the vaccine is implemented throughout the County, that we'll see some more ridership increases and then we will increase the service levels. Speaker 1: 02:08 You were saying they could be every half hour at peak times and every hour, uh, other times, how soon could that happen? Speaker 2: 02:14 We have enough of the new locomotives to get started on the, uh, improved service times. Uh, but we do require two new train sets, which I believe are scheduled to be in, uh, in 2022. Okay. Speaker 1: 02:28 So for people who say the ridership has dropped, especially during COVID and there's no need for this, how would you respond to that? Speaker 2: 02:35 Well, I would respond that it's the old proverbial chicken or egg argument, which, which comes first. Um, I think having, uh, the proper time schedule and headways is a critical part of attracting ridership. And, uh, I do believe that there are people that are more than willing to ride the coaster service if it was a more dependable service in terms of, uh, being able to, uh, plan your day around, uh, a service that runs more frequently. So I am in the camp that says public transportation is a critical part of a region that is capable of moving people around it and improving the service is really important to me, as well as I think everybody on the North County transit district board agrees that these are important improvements that we need to continue to work towards. Speaker 1: 03:29 Okay. So the plan is to extend it to the convention center right now, it stops at the historic Santa Fe deeper at the foot of Broadway. A lot of people in North County would like to see an extension to the airport, but the plan instead is to the convention center. Why is that? Speaker 2: 03:44 As I mentioned that the rail line has been, was built in the 1880s, uh, you know, the old land grant history of, uh, the essentially very good deals for the railroad men that were operating at the time. And what we're doing is we're taking, you know, we're using the existing corridor to expand our services. The reality is that there is currently no right away to the airport for coaster trains. And so, um, the ability to expand to the airport would be limited by the costs that it would, would, uh, be to acquire the right of way to operate over there. There is talk about running trolley service directly to the airport, but right now the shuttle services that, uh, take passengers from the terminals to the rental car facility, I think is a excellent opportunity to extend that shuttle service to old town and, uh, pick up coaster riders at old town so that they could conveniently get to the airport by the shuttle service. Um, there is currently a MTS bus nine, nine two that runs from the Santa Fe Depot over to the airport. And it is not a difficult ride. The challenge currently that we have with airport service by the coaster is that we don't have trains that run frequently enough. So it's really not very convenient to try and plan a trip to the airport by rail. Speaker 1: 05:11 Although that could change from the number of trains increase, of course, Speaker 2: 05:15 Is our goal. Yeah. So once we, once we increased frequencies, we think there will be more people that will exercise the option to take public transit to the airport. And, you know, they may use nine, nine two, but I think again, that the possibility of extending the shuttle bus that serves the car rental facility would be even more attractive because it would allow people to get off the train at, at old town instead of continuing the ride, which is not a long ride. It's about five minutes further to go from old town to the Santa Fe Depot. But as you're traveling by train past the airport, it's a little frustrating if you're late for your flight or that sort of. So I just think it would be beneficial to be able to get off at old town and have the option of, of taking a shuttle bus, which, uh, those shuttle buses travel on the inside of airport property. So they're not fighting with traffic on Harbor drive and that sort of thing. So it's a, I think going to be a little bit more of an advantage, Speaker 1: 06:18 There is a trolley line currently running to the convention center. Why can't people just catch the trolley there? Speaker 2: 06:24 Well, I think that, you know, they, uh, Santa Fe Depot is very busy and most people riding public transit prefer to have a single seat to their destination. So, um, anybody considering a trip from North County down to the gas lamp or the convention center or to a Petco park for a Padres game or concert is going to, you know, think twice probably before deciding to take the coaster because of the need to find that extra ride to get to those destinations. So once you eliminate the need for finding a second seat to get to your final destination, you will attract more writers. And there, the railroad is currently there. It's a pass-through for Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight trains that go as far South as a national city. So it's, it's not like we're adding new track. It's like there will be an improvement of track. And the proposal is to foot. The platform basically is the only thing that's missing so that people can get on and off, uh, the coaster trains. And that would be between first and fifth avenues and make riding the coaster from North County, much more convenient. Speaker 1: 07:30 We've been speaking with Tony Krantz chair of the board of the North County transit district. Tony, thank you so much. Speaker 2: 07:36 Thank you.